Colin’s echidna

That’s not the name of a new species, but a young one (short-beaked echidna, Tachyglossus aculeatus) lately spotted by a friend, Colin, on his property. It was probably wandering around looking for food – ants and termites.

Young echidna on the move, photo by Colin Ford

Colin has two large dogs, so the echidna’s defence of rolling up and presenting its spines is useful. If an attacker can get past the spines and get at the soft underbelly, the echidna is basically cactus.

My friend Rick, Friend of the Koala, tells how he was once called out to rescue a koala. When he got there, several cars were clustered around. Someone said to him that they had ‘the puggle‘. He was just about to launch into an educational speech about how koala youngsters, like kangaroo young, are called ‘joeys’,  when the person produced it – and it was indeed a very young, spineless echidna.

Luckily, an echidna carer arrived soon after, as Rick was preparing to keep it warm, but the best treatment for puggles is to keep them cool. He was relieved that the right treatment was going to be given.

Echidnas have ways of reproducing and raising their young peculiar to the group they are classified in: the monotremes. Along with platypuses, they are egg-laying mammals. Female echidnas do not have nipples, but have mammary glands that ooze milk in their pouches. The puggle laps it up. It’s a good thing that puggles are spineless, as the mother would be very uncomfortable otherwise.

Although it is an appealing idea, hedgehogs in the UK are apparently not evolving to run instead of curl up and stay still on motorways, thereby becoming road kill. An echidna probably has the same problem. I occasionally see dead adults on local roads.

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1 Response to Colin’s echidna

  1. Rebecca says:

    What a cutie! One of the highlights of my time in Australia was seeing a wild echidna up close. I was able to get some fantastic photographs, thanks to the fact that they curl up into a ball when they see you coming rather than trying to run away!

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